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SDRs Used as Motivational Tool for Communications and DSP

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Randall L. Musselman United States Air Force Academy

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Dr. Musselman received his B.S. degree from Southern Illinois University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, from the University of Colorado, in Electrical Engineering. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Colorado. He has achieved the academic rank of Professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and is the Dir of Curriculum in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (DFEC), where he is in charge of the electromagnetics and communications systems courses and oversees all department curricular matters. In addition, Professor Musselman directs the Microwave Measurements Lab, where he oversees antenna pattern and radar cross-section experiments in a two-million dollar anechoic chamber. Dr. Musselman has published over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers, mostly in the fields of electromagnetic propagation effects and antenna design. He has received a U.S. Patent, and currently has another patent pending. He has won several research and teaching awards, including the Seiler Award for Research Excellence, the US Air Force Academy Outstanding Scientist/Engineer, and the BGen Roland E. Thomas Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cadet Education.

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A new telecommunications course is presented that uses software-defined radios (SDR) to apply communications and digital signal processing techniques even prior to students taking those upper-level courses. At the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), Communications Theory (ECE447) and Digital Signal Processing (ECE434) must be senior-level courses, due to the amount of prerequisites. The new course, Wireless Communications (ECE448) implements modulation/demodulation and signal-processing techniques, by programming inexpensive SDRs, which do not require the advanced mathematical theoretical background. Class exercises start as MATLAB simulations that model what a “real” radio does. Then the students’ simulations actually become the programs that control the SDR hardware in real time, as students establish transmit/receive links between themselves. There is no need to understand the theory prior to implementing these techniques. Students can take this course their junior year prior to these theoretical courses, serving as a motivational tool. Or, students can take these courses after these theoretical courses, in order to apply the theory that they already learned.

Musselman, R. L. (2018, June), SDRs Used as Motivational Tool for Communications and DSP Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30953

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